Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Lodges During the Revolutionary War and Post War

Doing some reaearch the other day I came across American Union Lodge No 1. This Lodge has an interesting history. It is considered the first Ohio Lodge set up within the Northwest Territories, as it was called. General Rufus Putnam led a group of Revolutionary veterans to settle the land in 1788.

"These American Pioneers to the Northwest Territory arrived at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum rivers, on April 7, 1788, and established Marietta, Ohio as the first permanent American settlement in the Northwest Territory. Putnam went on to serve as a Supreme Court judge for the Northwest Territory. Brother Putnam established American Union Lodge No 1 in Marietta, but American Union Lodge did not start out in Ohio. Since this was a military Lodge, it was chartered in Boston Mass. in 1776 and by virtue of the warrant the brethren met on February 16th, an Entered Apprentice Lodge having been opened, proceeded to elect the following subordinate officers: John Parks, Senior Warden; Thos Chase, Junior Warden; Jonathan Heart, Secretary, and Samuel H. Parsons, Treasurer.

"And each accepted and took their seats with the usual ceremonies." Jacob Dickerson was appointed Tyler during the Lodge's pleasure and a committee of three named to prepare a "body of laws for the regulation of this particular Lodge." Four persons were proposed to be made Masons, three of whom were elected to receive the Entered Apprentice degree. On February 20, the organization was completed and the first Masonic work was done. The Lodge was opened in due form with the officers in their proper stations and eleven members and three visitors present. The Entered Apprentice degree was conferred and "the committee having made a report and the laws read, they were agreed to and ordered to be entered," and a Masonic body destined to experience every vicissitude of fortune in the Revolutionary Army and finally to light the torch of brotherly love and service anew in the great Northwest was launched on its career.

These were the times that tried men's souls. The Army was before Boston, which was held by 10,000 British troops, well equipped and well supplied, while their ships commanded the ocean....

"Gen. Washington was obliged to present a bold front but was unable to undertake any active movements or explain the reason for his inaction." At any moment they might be attacked by the enemy and none could tell what the final outcome was to be. Amid these conditions the American Union Lodge was born.

February 20 to April 2, 1776 meetings were held in Roxbury, Massachusetts. On March 28, Grand Master John Rowe was present.

In April, 1776, the Army, having moved to New York City, a meeting was held on April 23 At Bridgewater Hall. Eleven subsequent meetings were held between that date and August 15. The Battle of Long Island brought to an end the series of convocations. Two of the brethren were killed and nine others, including the Worshipful Master, Joel Clark, were captured.

February 15, 1779, Secretary Heart issued a call for a meeting at Reading, Connecticut, April 7. Joel Clark had died in prison, and Gen. Samuel H. Parsons was chosen as Worshipful Master.

A meeting was held at Nelson's Point, New York, June 24, 1779 at which Gen. George Washington was present. It was during this second sojourn in New York that Brother Rufus Putnam, afterwards leader of the pioneer settlement to Marietta, and eventually the first Grand Master of Ohio, was initiated, passed and raised. Brother Moses Cleaveland, who was one of the leaders of the Connecticut pioneers to northern Ohio, was made an Entered Apprentice.

During the Army's occupation of New Jersey in the winter of 1779-80 a few meetings were held in Morristown. The meeting of December 27, celebrating the festival of St. John the Evangelist, was the largest in numbers, thirty-three members and sixty-nine visitors, including General Washington.

No record of meetings in 1781, but meetings were held at different places in New York. The last meeting was held April 23, 1783.

From now on the meetings of the Lodge were very irregular and but little Masonic work was done.

The war was over and the soldiers returned to their homes to take up the duties of peace. The Lodge had come into existence while the conflict was in its infancy and had continued to its close. Her first Master had died a prisoner. Her second, General Samuel H. Parsons, had rendered distinguished service to his country, attained the rank of Major General and was a member of the military court which had tried Major Andre. Major Heart, the third Master, enlisted in time to take an honorable part in the battle of Bunker Hill and continued in the army until he met a soldier's death striving to rally Gen. St. Clair's troops in the West. The members came from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Virginia....

More than once disaster had brought the Lodge to the brink of destruction, but it had survived and, though the brethren knew it or not, in the providence of God it was destined to light the fires of Masonry in a land which they had not seen. An interval of seven years elapsed and when the Lodge again assembled, it was to find a permanent home on the banks of the Ohio.

The little band of pioneers who landed at Marietta on April 7, 1788, and those who come after them, contained members of American Union Lodge and others of the fraternity who were anxious to erect an altar of Masonry in the wilderness. Soon this came to pass and the wandering of the Lodge had ceased. Here it was to remain, a powerful influence for good in the settlement for generations yet to come. In the words of Brother Martin R. Andrews: "The year 1790 marks the beginning of a new era in the history of American Union Lodge." For five years it continued to be in reality a military Lodge, receiving and initiating recruits as they passed on their way to conflict. Yet the Lodge had found a permanent home. She stood at the portals of the great Northwest, and at the altar many a pioneer halted long enough to light a torch which he could bear far away into the wilderness. This, then. was the Golden Age of our history, not because it was free from trials and cares, for the whole period is full of struggles and perils. Rest is not the ideal of men who meet for the purpose of learning how to labor for the good of others. The period was truly golden in the opportunities it afforded the little group of brothers on the frontier to make their influence felt throughout a vast empire and into successive generations."...

Jonathan Heart, third and last Worshipful Master of American Union (Army) Lodge, was mustered out of military service in December, 1783. Two years later Brother Heart, as a captain in the army raised for the protection of the western frontier, brought the Warrant of American Union Lodge to the west.

In November, 1785, a detachment of troops under Ma jor and Brother John Doughty had been sent to the mouth of the Muskingum River and there erected Fort Harmar. Under the leadership of General Rufus Putnam the Ohio Company of Associates - New England veterans of the Revolution - landed at the mouth of the Muskingum, opposite Fort Harmar, April 7, 1788, and began the settlement of Marietta, the "Plymouth Rock of the West." Log cabins were built and a stockade, called Campus Martius, was erected as a refuge against the Indians. Such was the beginning of the first permanent settlement planted within the limits of the Northwest Territory.

On May 21, 1792, a letter was received from the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania which read in part: "It was with equal surprise and pleasure the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania received intelligence of the formation of a Lodge in the midst of the immense wilderness of the West....As the account which you have given of the origin of your warrant is perfectly satisfactory and as the succession to the Chair has been uninterrupted, your authority for renewing your work appears to be incontestable." Thus were the Brethren assured of the right to carry on the work of the Craft in their new land.

On March 24, 1801, fire destroyed the Lodge hall and with it were lost its Warrant, furniture, jewels and implements. On November 7, 1803, Wor. Bro. Putnam reported that he had received a Charter from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, "renewing the rights, privileges and precedence of this Lodge as heretofore established."

The early Masonic home of American Union Lodge is an historic matter of special interest. From the date of establishment of the Lodge until 1794, the home of Major Sergeant at Campus Martius was used. Following this date, for several years the Lodge met a different places and in many records of the Secretary the place of meeting is not given. From January until August 1800, the Lodge had met at Campus Martius, but for the remainder of the year and the early part of 1801 the meetings were held at Bowen's Inn. After the fire of March 24th a new home was necessary and Lincoln's Inn was secured as a temporary movement where meetings were occasionally held. From December 5, 1803 until 1810 the office of Bro. Putnam was used as the meeting place.

Ohio became a state in 1803, and Chillicothe continued to be the capitol of Ohio until 1810. Prior to the year 1810, Masonic Lodges had been established at Marietta, Cincinnati, Warren, Worthington, Zanesville and Chillicothe. These Lodges were widely separated and travel between the settlements was chiefly on horseback. It was probably at the legislative sessions at Chillicothe that discussion relative to the formation of a Grand Lodge of Ohio first took place.

On January 7, 1808, the Brethren then in session took steps which led to the organization of the Grand Lodge of Ohio, F. & A. M., on which occasion a series of resolutions signifying conditions associated with membership were adopted. Bro. Rufus Putnam of American Union Lodge was chosen Grand Master and the first Grand Communication was to be held on the first Monday of the year 1809, "at whatsoever place the Legislature of Ohio shall then be in session."

At the 1810 session of Grand Lodge it was "Resolved, that the several Charters surrendered to this Grand Lodge by the Lodges under its jurisdiction be endorsed by the Grand Secretary, 'surrendered and canceled in due form, by order of the Grand Lodge,' and then returned to the respective Lodges to remain in the archives thereof for safe keeping; subject, however, to the order of the Grand Lodge at all times. "

Up until this time American Union Lodge No. 1 had maintained itself in an independent position as concerns proper and subordinate relationships with the Grand Lodge of Ohio. Regardless of this fact, Grand Lodge saw fit to reserve the number one position on its roster for American Union Lodge because of its age and military service during the Revolutionary War. A letter of invitation to identify itself with the Grand Lodge of Ohio was received from that body by American Union Lodge and read in open lodge in 1814. The following action was considered necessary: "On motion, it is Resolved, that it is pre-expedient to resign the present Warrant to the Grand Lodge of Ohio; or to any other Lodge; because that in so doing it will annihilate the Royal Arch Chapter working under said Warrant. Therefore this Lodge rejects any jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Ohio over this Lodge."

This controversy between the Grand Lodge of Ohio and American Union Lodge continued for several years. The situation was finally brought to a head in 1823 when several worthy brethren who had previously broken away from the old Lodge petitioned the Grand Lodge of Ohio for the right to revive and organize the defunct American Union Lodge No. 1 under jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Ohio. The Grand Lodge, after due investigation, granted the Charter, thus ending the long and unfortunate controversy between American Union Lodge and the Grand Body."

This is an interesting statement: "The situation was finally brought to a head in 1823 when several worthy brethren who had previously broken away from the old Lodge petitioned the Grand Lodge of Ohio for the right to revive and organize the defunct American Union Lodge No. 1 under jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Ohio."

Why & when were there breakaway brethren from the American Union Lodge No 1?
What transpired between 1809 & 1823?
Why would not Putnam be behind this movement to "revive and organize" this "defunct Lodge? He was alive until 1824.

Here is another claim of meeting and operating in 1814: "A letter of invitation to identify itself with the Grand Lodge of Ohio was received from that body by American Union Lodge and read in open lodge in 1814."

In 1814, the Brethren apparently voted to not fall under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Ohio?

In December of 1808, as the first Grand Master, Rufus Putnam, who was also the founder of Marietta, found it necessary to resign from the office of Grand Master because of advanced years and ill health. Brother Putnam served honorably as Master of American Union Lodge in 1794, 1798, and 1800. His death occurred in 1824, being 86 years of age, at which time he was, with the exception of Brother (General) Lafayette, the last surviving general officer of the Revolutionary Army.

Ill health in 1809, lived till 1824, American Union Lodge No 1 was Indepedant until 1823?
Were the breakaway brethren really worthy?
To take away the Independant status of an American Military Lodge that represented American Freemasonry and its Unilateral fight for Freedom and against oppression by the Crown............
America was about Independance.
American Freemasonry was unique in that is was a breeding ground for education and lessons in Liberty, Equality and Fraternity!

Brother and General Rufus Putnam and his revolutionary war veterans seemed to emody the Spirit of Freemasonry within American Freemasonry and the American Union Lodge No 1!

A Beacon of Universal Brotherhood on the edge of the Wilderness.
Two enemies during that time period. The Indians and The Crown's attempts at the reclaiming of America. He staid Vigilant till his death.

One question to leave all of you with: How would the Freemasonic, Revolutionary War Veteran feel about American Freemasonry's path during the years of 1800-1830?
Some of these Brothers had to militarily defend America again from Britian during the War of 1812?

Thanks to http://www.mariettamasonicbodies.com/au1history.htm for some of the Historical information.

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